Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Gina Shmukler (Page 1 of 2)

Listening to Eve Ensler

I felt special at the talk Eve Ensler gave at the Baxter yesterday. I felt special that I was part of an invited audience. I felt special that I am very close to the SA producer, my sister-in-law, Gina Shmukler. I felt special because I knew so many of the gorgeous women of every description who were there. (I felt special because many, many industry people were so kind to me and whispered sweet words of solidarity with me in my ear, after my turgid time on the interwebs over the last two weeks.)

I loved sitting in the theatre and listening to the conversation flow between Eve, a most crazily lovable creative activist, playwright, performer and human female person, and Kgomotso Matsuyane, an articulate, charming, funny, warm, intelligent and generous host, who had clearly done great homework and met Eve with love and respect. Cape Town is the perfect place for this type of conversation to happen, with its collection of spirits quite comfortable with tapping into the personal political energetic. (It’s not for everyone, I know, and I have heard that Jozi was a tougher crowd).

It was quite clear during the Q&A afterwards that people had responded to Eve in that deeply personal way, and related to the bits of her story (she was there to promote her book about her cancer and recovery) that had resonance and relevance to them. And it was the same for me, on a completely personal and specific level. I was intrigued and moved by a lot of her story but the thing I hooked onto (and right now I accidentally typed thin instead of thing!) was coming back into my body. She spoke about being disconnected from our bodies and that for her, getting sick brought her back into her body. For me, I have returned to my body after losing 17kgs. I have rediscovered my body after ignoring it and its/my needs. I have fallen in love with my body in a profound and deep way. I have reconnected with my physical self and it has changed my relationship with myself, others, and how I am in the world. I cried a lot during Eve’s chat. Crying is also me being in my body.

So, I had the experience that everyone looks for in a theatre yesterday. Communion with the audience, and with the ‘performers’. Catharsis. Connection with the self. Change. Understanding. Enlightenment. Looking back at all of those gigantic things it seems unrealistic. But it isn’t. Thanks Eve, and all who worked to bring that magical conversation to us.

Eve’s extraordinary play Emotional Creature is on next week. I am urging you to find a young person and take them. It will transform you and them.

The Line

I thought I would only get to this in the morning, after taking a bit of time to compose myself, but I can’t help it. It needs to be written now. Truth is, I am waiting for my face to get back to normal, from an hour long cry.

Tonight was the opening of my sister-in-law Gina Shmukler’s play The Line at The Baxter Studio. It is only on this week, as part of the Rolex something or another (not exactly sure), but this means that you need to make a very special effort to get to one of the very few performances. It is absolutely required viewing.

This play has arrived in CT with a lot of hype because of how well it did in Joburg at The Market. I was nervous about how it would translate for a Cape Town audience, particularly an invited, opening night one. I didn’t need to worry. It delivered on every level and I was in trouble after the first five minutes and didn’t ever pull myself back.

Some of you will know how the subject of xenophobia gets me going and so it is no surprise that from this point of view I was invested. Two actresses play characters and tell stories taken directly from interviews with perpetrators, victims and witnesses of the out of control xenophobic attacks that rocked South Africa in 2008. And it is devastating.

The Line is a radical, complex, powerful, shattering, horrific, personal, critical, and ultimately human look at these xenophobic attacks, and how it affected those involved. I knew that this was what it was about, and yet, revisiting it in this way was like opening the emotional floodgates. That’s because the piece is so contained and clear and it is able to cut to the real dark heart of this horror without ever getting sentimental, preachy or message mad.

The two actresses, Khutjo Green and Gabi Harris are nothing short of extraordinary. I marveled at their performances. The set (Niall Griffin) and sound (Charl-Johan Lingenfelder) were perfect, as was the lighting, but I say this as an afterthought. I was totally undone by this piece in its totality, and I cannot urge you strongly enough to go and see it. Go.

The Line is Coming


This amazing piece of work is coming to Cape Town and will be at The Baxter for 5 shows only. Gina Shmukler’s The Line deals with a subject close to my heart, xenophobia. Do not miss it.

Emotional Creature

Lucky and great timing meant that I could attend the VIP opening of Eve Ensler‘s premier of her play Emotional Creature at The Market Theatre Lab last night. My gorgeous sister-in-law Gina Shmukler has been working on the production (which is how I wangled being there) in a production capacity.

It was very exciting to be at the new Lab, housed in a sexy, huge warehouse, a block or so away from the actual Market. It’s a fantastic space, and a fantastic theatre.

Emotional Creature is a collection of monologues, strung together with moments of dance, song, girl power and bonding. It’s a call to girls around the world to mobilise, be proud, speak out, share their stories and feelings and find an authentic voice of expression. The whole cast are teenagers, most of whom are still at school!

The simple but pretty set, effective lighting and gorgeous digital visual background support what these girls manage to do on stage, which is totally beautiful and mind blowing and, unbelievably emotional.

I have been doing my share of crying in the dark lately, but this one was the biggest, best and longest sob. It was ‘snot en trane’ that made me look like a mascara stained marshmallow afterwards. (I must say, in case there is any confusion, that this is a good thing; me being turned into an emotional weep machine by the power of theatre.)

It took me a little while to go down the path with these very young but extremely talented performers. But once the Bulgarian girl’s story started I was unstoppable. Both the woman sitting next to me and I were weeping, snorting, sniffing and wiping our tears, all the way through the rest of the show. My response was absolutely visceral. My emotional body tapped right in, like an electrical connection, and I was totally transported on the deepest emotional level.

It’s not all bleakly, unstoppably sad. It is in turns funny, cute, acerbic, powerful, liberating, quirky, silly and even wistful. I felt blessed to have been part of it, delighted to have heard Eve talk to us as we stood in ovation afterwards, and were moved by her passion, excitement and girl juice that drives her.

Every schoolgirl, student, mom, dad, friend, lover, teacher must, no, needs, to see Emotional Creature. Everyone in the whole wide world.

And, our own Charl-Johan Lingenfelder’s music, songs and soundscape are completely fabulous.

Super Trouper

What an absolute treat. Last night Big Friendly, my boet and I went to the huge opening of Mamma Mia! at Artscape. Now, I secretly watched (and loved) the movie on DVD, in spite of the fact that I a) hate musical movies b) don’t love ABBA, and c) think it’s all terribly silly.

With this live, local production though, there has been huge anticipation because my sister-in-law Gina Shmukler (boast boast boast boast) is the lead, Donna Sheridan. It was a bit of a problem for me actually, because every time Donna appeared on stage I started to cry, Big Friendly would squeeze my hand (normally in time to the music because he was just loving it), then Donna would start to sing and the tears would stream down my face, and then, in the second half, when Donna gets all emotional I wept my heart out, having to let go of Big Friendly’s hand to smear my face with my sleeve. Now I wasn’t crying because I know Gina, I was crying because she is so totally brilliant. Her performance is amazing. She gives the character of Donna amazing depth, she has a huge emotional range, and mostly, I have rarely seen anyone else radiate their performance out to a huge audience so strongly. And then there is her unbelievable voice. What a powerhouse of a voice.

The show is worth watching just for Gina’s performance, and she is definitely the anchor here, but almost everybody else is totally brilliant. Firstly, Carmen Pretorius, who plays Sophie Sheridan, Donna’s daughter, has the really tough job of playing the young female straight lead. These are the parts where you have to be pretty. Yet she adds so much more to the role by being sexy, feisty, and also very present. She grows on you. And the girl can sing her heart out.

Next up are the dream team of Kate Normington and Ilse Klink as Donna’s old friends, Tanya and Rosie. Who could ask for anything more? They are so, so, so good. They are delicious, outrageous, funny, super sexy and warm. And they too have kick ass voices. In fact, it must be said that I can’t believe how brilliantly everybody sings, because ABBA is so hard to do, and the audience know every single word.

I loved the possible dads, Harry, played by Neels Claasen who was warm and funny, Bill, by Murray Todd who, let’s face it, is an absolute scene stealer, he is that good, and Sam, by Anrich Herbst whose earnestness was too cute. Actually, I can’t write about them without making special mention of Murray Todd’s dancing, which is one of my fave moments in the show.

I loved everybody in the ensemble, who I thought were focused, fabbalous, great dancers, and a great team. I want to make a special mention of Stephen Jubber, who plays Sky, the young boyfriend. What a transformation. He has grown into a relaxed and natural performer (if you ever get past his six-pack). It feels like he has taken every moment of stage time to learn and get experience, and he is lovely. Bravo.

So, the performers absolutely make the show, but they are supported by an unbelievable team. Everything about this production meets the highest standards. The band is excellent. The sound and lights are amazing, the set is brilliant, and the costumes are just my best. This is the exact kind of show that everyone will love, and feel like they are getting their money’s worth.

One of the hard things about an international production with a local cast is that there is a blueprint of how everything must be done, to the last stitch of costuming. What is so fab about this production is that it allows the cast to make it their own, with natural South African accents and small references that make it local. It is a production that brings out the best in local talent, and proves beyond any doubt that South Africans are up there with the best in the world!

Now I have to see if I can shmugel to get tickets to see it again!

PS. I must warn you about the earworm. I cannot get Supe pipper troup pipper out of my head. Eish!

Shining Showboat

How lucky am I? I was invited to a run through of Cape Town Opera’s Showboat this afternoon. It is not being performed locally before it goes to Sweden for a two week run. My most stunning and super talented shvester-in-law Gina Shmukler has one of the leads in the show (which is how I managed to wangle my way into the run through in the first place) and I really wanted to see what she was up to. I am so glad I did.

It is going to be beautiful. Even without the orchestra, costumes and set it is a very impressive production. It is slick, powerful and impressive, with tons of talent, great singing and dancing and more than a couple of really moving moments.

Ok, I am biased, and I think the sun and moon shine out of and on Gina. She is fabulous. But there are others. Malcolm Terry is great. Catherine Diamond is gorgeous; funny, quirky and totally there. Some of the accents are a bit dodge, but the chorus are amazing. And the spirit and cohesion of the cast are amazing.

I couldn’t really understand what an SA cast doing an old fashioned American musical was all about, but after seeing today’s run through I totally get it. And Old Man River was one of my father’s favourite songs.

Tante B, Gina plays the part that Ava Gardner played. And she sings that song. And it is brilliant!

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